Epoch is presented as the culmination of Tycho’s trilogy of albums, which started with 2011’s Dive. Led by Scott Hansen, Epoch has a sense of urgency that is unusual when listened to alongside Dive and 2014’s Awake. Perhaps this is why Hansen chose to follow the musical trend of 2016, and released Epoch on digital streaming in September 2016 with no prior announcement.
Hansen credits the artistic decision as wanting to feel more connected with the people listening to the music – it’s a sweet sentiment, reminiscent of children excitedly showing their parents the drawing they have created in school that day.
Epoch can be listened to in isolation, but is enjoyed best when compared to previous albums. Despite having a darker tone than previous albums, it is obvious that this album is building upon preceeding work. The first song on the album, ‘Glider’ oscillates between the lo-fi techno that is synonymous with what has come before on Tycho’s albums, and a heavier fast-paced beat that will define Epoch. At times it can seem repetitive, but as the song begins to layer and loop upon itself, it discovers its focus.
Hansen, who also works as a graphic designer under the name ISO50, sees the album artwork as being an intrinsic part of the album. Designed by Hansen, the visual narrative of Epoch reflects the new tones of the music. Dive, the most relaxed of the albums, is reflected by a horizon depicted in a pastel palette. ‘Awake’ gains more focus while retaining its ambient tones, with an enclosed circular rainbow. Epoch, however, is categorised by colour-blocked geometric shapes that reflect the album’s tendency to juxtapose more jagged rhythms with smooth electronica bases. This works well in songs such as ‘Slack’, but sometimes the album can lag slightly with songs such as ‘Receiver’, which doesn’t give the listener the cathartic satisfaction of release after its build-up.
While the album has lulls such as these, they are quickly forgotten due to the energy of the album as a whole. ‘Local’ is a treat as it fades in, and immediately has the vibrant beats that other songs build up to. ‘Source’, meanwhile, utilises Zac Brown on bass and guitar and Rory O’Connor on drums. Their rhythms act as a dialectical force to Hansen’s downtempo style.
Epoch is the culmination of the trilogy, but is also a framework that shows us the evolution of Hansen as an artist. Elements of previous albums are apparent, but are effortlessly woven into an album that creates a different mood to the rest of Tycho’s output.